The Autobiography of Malcolm X Book Summary - The Autobiography of Malcolm X Book explained in key points
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The Autobiography of Malcolm X summary

Alex Haley, Malcolm X

As told to Alex Haley

4.6 (133 ratings)
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Brief summary

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Alex Haley and Malcolm X recounts the life of the influential civil rights leader. It explores his transformation from a street hustler to a prominent figure of the black liberation movement and his eventual assassination.

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    The Autobiography of Malcolm X
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    Malcolm lost his father and his mother at a young age.

    Malcolm X was born Malcolm Little on May 19, 1925.

    His father, Reverend Earl Little, was a Baptist preacher who helped spread the teaching of Marcus Garvey, founder of the Universal Negro Improvement Association (UNIA).

    Malcolm was the seventh of eight children and his mother, Louise, struggled to look after them all. Louise was born in the West Indies, the product of her mother’s rape by a white slave master, which meant that Louise had very fair skin that sometimes resulted in her being mistaken for a white woman.

    This also meant that Malcolm was born with reddish hair and a light complexion – the lightest of any of his siblings. Malcolm believed it was this difference in his appearance that led his mother to be harsher on him than her other children. In her eyes, he was a living reminder of the white rapist in the family’s past.

    Meanwhile, perhaps because of this same difference, his father favored Malcolm, frequently taking him to UNIA meetings.

    But his father’s efforts to create a sense of pride and identity in the Black community led to a tragic end.

    One of Malcolm’s first memories dated from when they were living in Lansing, Michigan. He woke up in the middle of the night in a panic. A white supremacist group, The Black Legion, had set fire to the Littles’ house, but luckily the family escaped unharmed.

    Predictably, it got worse: When Malcolm was six years old, his father was murdered. Despite having been fatally beaten, the police called his death an accident.

    After that, Louise struggled to keep the family together as a single mother. She was prideful and didn’t like resorting to government aid, but eventually had to.

    This meant dealing with the government’s child welfare officers, who were especially cruel to Louise, trying to turn the children against her. They finally succeeded, putting Louise in a state mental hospital when Malcolm was 12 and sending the kids to live with different families.

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    What is The Autobiography of Malcolm X about?

    The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965) is a profound and personal account of one man’s journey from dropping out of school and entering a life of crime and drug addiction to finding redemption through human rights activism. These blinks tell the story of a curious and evolving mind: a man who dedicated his life to helping African-Americans gain identity and freedom from oppression by any means necessary.

    The Autobiography of Malcolm X Review

    The Autobiography of Malcolm X (1965) is a powerful account of a remarkable life that is worth reading for its profound insights and thought-provoking narrative. Here's why this book is a must-read:

    • A raw and honest portrayal of Malcolm X's journey from street hustler to prominent civil rights leader reveals the complexities of race and identity in America.
    • Through his meticulous self-reflection and unfiltered perspectives, Malcolm X challenges societal norms and confronts uncomfortable truths about systemic racism.
    • The book offers an insightful perspective on the Black experience, highlighting the importance of self-education, self-reliance, and the power of change.

    Best quote from The Autobiography of Malcolm X

    Soon the state people were making plans to take over all my mothers children.

    —Alex Haley, Malcolm X
    example alt text

    Who should read The Autobiography of Malcolm X?

    • Human rights activists
    • Historians
    • People interested in the civil rights movement

    About the Author

    Malcolm X was one of the most important activists in the history of African-American rights. Malcolm X Day is celebrated on 19 May each year in many cities including Berkeley, California, where offices and schools are officially closed. He has been portrayed in numerous movies by actors such as Morgan Freeman and Denzel Washington.

    Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award winner Alex Haley wrote Roots: The Saga of an American Family. He was also senior editor of Reader’s Digest, a respected journalist and groundbreaking interviewer. He ghostwrote The Autobiography of Malcolm X from extensive interviews with his subject.

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    The Autobiography of Malcolm X FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Autobiography of Malcolm X?

    The main message of The Autobiography of Malcolm X is the transformation and growth of Malcolm X as he navigates through racism, religion, and politics.

    How long does it take to read The Autobiography of Malcolm X?

    The reading time for The Autobiography of Malcolm X varies depending on the reader, but it usually takes several hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Autobiography of Malcolm X a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Autobiography of Malcolm X is a must-read for its honest portrayal and insight into the African American experience, civil rights movement, and personal growth. It's worth every minute of your time.

    Who is the author of The Autobiography of Malcolm X?

    The author of The Autobiography of Malcolm X is Alex Haley, with Malcolm X as the co-author.